Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Works

I continue to be impressed with the science projects we participate in at The Works. We attended the first homeschool day of the new year on Monday and made hour glasses. Well, seconds glasses, really, though Kutey's is close to a minute. The lessons that go along with the projects are super short, hitting the highlights and then sprinkling in more information as the project is completed. We covered the history of telling time before we made our hour glasses. Really, 5 minutes and she was done talking. But! Kiddo remembered almost everything she said when dh asked him about it later that day. And NONE of what she talked about was anything we covered previously. They know their audience, they know they have only a few minutes to make it work, and they hit it well. Kiddo must also be getting more comfortable there, because he was actually answering the questions she asked. It helped that there were only a few other kids in our group (have I mentioned how cold it has been around here? No one wants to go outside).

In addition to the great project, again, they have made some improvements to the exhibit area. The robots now have stand controls. They used to have remotes, and somehow they would get messed up and you couldn't control your own robot. Besides, they had so many buttons it was hard for younger folks (like Kiddo) to remember exactly which button did what. The stands are a vast improvement. They are clearly and simply labeled and much more intuitive. They also replaced the robot corrals. Previously they were made out of PVC pipe. They weren't very tall and every time something bumped into them, they fell apart. They also didn't seem to be much of a deterrent to kids. More often than not, there was a kid in the corral with the robot, which may or may not be a good thing. Of course, since they were often not responding to the controls....Anyway, they have replaced that with wood and Plexiglas, twice the height, and obviously much sturdier!

They also added another table to the marble track station (Kiddo was really excited about the extra space!) and added a new feature: Bee-Bots. If you haven't seen these, you should. Kiddo was very entertained, but even better than that, I was! IT is a programmable robot that follows the instructions you give it exactly. They have a maze you can set up differently and then tell the Bee-Bot how to do the maze. Tricky, and fun. A great early programming lesson.

It's nice to know that the membership I bought will continue to provide us with great science learning opportunities!

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